Former McCain Chief of Staff Considers Running for Senate As a Democrat

Rep. Ruben Gallego says he’ll decide after the midterms whether he’ll run

Grant Woods and his wife, Marlene, pay respect to the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as the senator lies in state in the Capitol rotunda on August 31, 2018. Woods served for a time as McCain's chief of staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The late Sen. John McCain’s former chief of staff is considering running for his former boss’ seat as a Democrat.

Grant Woods served as the attorney general for Arizona from 1991 to 1999 and was a chief of staff for McCain when he was a congressman in the 1980s.

Woods confirmed to CBS News on Thursday he was considering running and told Capitol Media Services that McCain’s passing influenced him.

“The country, I think, is really in a chaotic, difficult place,” he said. “So I have to do some real soul searching and just make a decision here.” 

Despite working for a Republican senator and being a member of the GOP while attorney general, Woods said it wasn't a “realistic possibility” for him to run for Senate as a Republican.

“I haven’t changed but the party has changed... if it wants to be the party of Trump, that’s not me,” he said.

Woods also spoke with Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who worked with Woods when she was North Dakota attorney general.

“Grant is a centrist, a dear friend, and someone I worked very closely with when we were both state attorneys general working to combat domestic violence and on habeas corpus,” she said.

Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is also considering a run for Senate. Gallego told CBS in a text that he would make a decision after the midterms.

“We are focusing on this November’s elections,” he said. “After the election I will get together with my family, friends and supporters to explore running.”

For the time being, Sen. Jon Kyl, who was McCain’s colleague in the Senate, was tapped by Gov. Doug Ducey to occupy McCain’s seat until 2020.

Watch: Jon Kyl Sworn In to Senate, Again

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